Gray Television Expects Political Boost

Atlanta broadcaster anticipates increased 4Q revenues

Gray Television (NYSE:GTN) is expecting its fourth quarter revenues to clock in at up to 12 percent higher than last year. The Atlanta broadcast concern recently issued guidance for the three months ending Dec. 31.

Gray anticipates total 4Q revenue (less agency commissions) of between $93.5 million and $94.0 million, up around 11.5 percent over the $84.3 million in revenues reported a year ago for the period. Political revenues are key, contributing more than $27 million to the overall results of Gray’s 36 TV stations in 30 markets.

Gray previously predicted the low side of 4Q revenues at $90 million, with political ranging from $26 million to $26.5 million. The company said it expects to be in compliance with leverage tests for its senior debt as of Dec. 31 based on current cash reserves and anticipated 4Q results.

GTN also recently announced retransmission agreements with 20 large cable operators comprising 2.4 million subscribers, or about 75 percent of Gray’s reach across large cable systems. Retransmission fees are expected to contribute around $8.4 million to Gray’s bottom line in 2009, up from $3 million this year.

Gray’s A shares traded at around 64 cents mid-day Monday, up from 18 cents in late November after being put on delisting notice by the New York Stock Exchange. It was given six months to snap out of it. Gray subsequently repurchased 883,200 of its own shares, pushing the price back up to as high as $1 for brief periods.